Earlier this year, Microsoft rolled out a new age rating system for apps and games in the Windows Store. A couple of months ago, in an unforeseen move, Microsoft announced that apps not updated with new age ratings will be unpublished from the Windows Store on September 30, 2016. In another email, the company also clarified that beta apps - including those which are private and internal - should be updated in accordance with the aforementioned ratings as well.
Now, Microsoft has started sending out emails to developers once again listing their apps as "non-compliant" with the company's policies. The email points out that Microsoft "found some problems" in the listed apps and developers should "remedy the failures" and re-submit the updated app. The failures are listed in a linked report which states that:
As part of our continuing efforts to improve the Store experience for our joint customers, we notified you several times to complete the Dev Center age rating questionnaire for your apps that did not have ratings based on the questionnaire.
If you do not act by the deadline of September 30, 2016, we will need to unpublish your app for failure to comply with policy 11.11, Age Ratings.
For those unaware with the new age rating system, it is important to note that Microsoft adopted the IARC rating system earlier this year in order to offer developers a more streamlined approach towards the publication of their apps, as well as providing age-appropriate content in the store. It is also important to note that it is relatively simple to update any published apps with new age ratings, as developers are only required to fill in a questionnaire, which roughly takes five minutes. After answering a series of questions, age ratings are generated for various certification boards including ESRB, PEGI, USK, ACB and more.
While Microsoft's initiative is certainly understandable, many have claimed it to be a double-edged sword. A large number of apps in the Windows Store have either been forgotten or abandoned by their respective developers - but numerous users still utilize them - and haven't been updated in quite some time. Many of these developers might not see the emails sent regarding the age ratings for their apps, and subsequently end up having them removed by September 30, 2016, which would come as a huge blow to their customers. Keeping in mind that Microsoft hasn't updated on its "669,000 apps in the Windows Store" statement since September 2015, this is probably a scenario the company wants to avoid.
The latest email leaves developers with less than a month to update their Windows Store apps with new age ratings. If they fail to comply with the company's policies, it seems likely that Microsoft will remove their apps, regardless of the consequences.
If you're a developer with apps published in the Windows Store, have you updated them with new age ratings? Let us know below.